2017 Heritage: Let’s Try That Again…

Mama said “Haste makes waste.”

(…and Mama said there’d be days like this, Mama said knock you out and Mama told me not to come… but that’s another story)

I was so excited to find packs of 2017 Heritage on the day of release that the next morning I decided to finish the post I’d started and publish right then – check it out if you missed it – instead of waiting until Friday morning as I’d originally planned. I’ll admit, I was thinking of the traffic that would be generated by having an early pack-busting on my blog.

Unfortunately, I fell afoul of one of the WordPress smartphone app’s “quirks” and at the moment it published it instantly showed up buried in everybody’s blogrolls as if it had published the previous day. I didn’t realize this until much later in the day when I was wondering why my stats weren’t booming like I’d expected.

Because I rushed through it, I also didn’t write the post I would’ve written if I took my time… and it still bugged  me that I didn’t have any Mets, Orioles or the “Game” insert cards.  So yesterday I went back to the same Target and bought two more packs… Wax packs this time, because the 20-card “value” hanger packs were sold out.

My first pack was clearly meant for Shane from Shoebox Legends… Check it out:
Out of 10 cards, I got three Red Sox and a buyback. (Sabes will be heading to ShoeboxLand later today).

Meanwhile the remainder of the pack was a Night Owl Nightmare!

This first pack didn’t forget about me, as it also had a “Game” insert, which I’ll get to in a moment.

The second pack also proved to be worthwhile, as I got a short-printed Met:
YO!  MTV Raps

The “Game” card I got turned out to be a Target-exclusive “Game Rookies” insert of Jake Thompson… and it surprised  me because it was big.  Not “big big”, but bigger and on thicker card stock than the originals.  Here’s a comparison with 1960’s Phillie Tony Gonzalez:
The 2017 version is standard sized and on baseball card stock, rather than slightly mini and on something more like playing card stock.

To differentiate the regular Game insert from the Game Rookies insert, the card back color was changed to red (because, you know, it’s a Target exclusive):
It amuses me that they had to eliminate an entire rows of baseballs in order to replace “©T.C.G. MADE & PRINTED IN U.S.A.” with three logos and five lines worth of copyright info.  And, for anyone who cares, I’ll point out that a different dot pattern is used in the “infield”.

Anyway, I’m happy with the job did on these inserts, and this is one of the more welcome additions to these Heritage packs.

One thing I would’ve done in the first post if I’d taken the time is to break down the number of cards by team, so that fans of the Padres can get pissed off that there are 4 teams which have at least twice as many cards as their team.

Breakdown of base card (not counting Leaders, World Series Highlights and All-Stars) by team:
21 Blue Jays, Cubs
20 Red Sox, Rockies
19 Tigers
17 Angels, Astros
16 Dodgers, Twins, Yankees
15 Braves, D-Backs, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Reds
14 Cardinals, Indians, Marlins, Rays, Royals, White Sox
13 Giants, Mariners
12 Athletics, Brewers, Rangers
10 Padres

More telling, and probably more wounding, is the breakdown of short prints by team.  Topps bumped the number of SP’s up to 100 cards this year, and that’s decidedly more painful for some than others.

Breakdown of Short Prints by Team (not including variations):
9 SP’s (OUCH!) – Cubs
7 SP’s (Nearly as OUCH!) – Red Sox
6 SP’s – Rockies, Tigers
5 SP’s – Astros, Blue Jays, Nats
4 SP’s – Marlins, Mets, Pirates, Rangers, Yankees
3 SP’s – Angels, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Orioles, White Sox
2 SP’s – Braves, D-Backs, Rays, Reds, Royals, Twins
1 SP – Brewers, Cardinals, Padres, Phillies.

As surprised as I was about the huge-payroll Dodgers having only 3 SP’s, I was really surprised that a competitive team like the Cardinals has only on SP, but I checked and there’s only Aledmys Diaz.  It doesn’t seem right that the Braves and Twins should have more SP’s than the Cards, but there you are.  I think the person who decided which players got short-printed is a St. Louis Cardinals fan who is currently muttering “Suck it, Cubs fans” under his or her breath.

I did have a realization that might provide an insight into Topps’ modus operandi… Of the 20 players who appear in the All-Topps team inserts…


…only two – Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber – have base cards that aren’t short prints.

Furthermore, of the 31 players who appear on League Leader cards, only 10 – Chris Archer, Chris Carter, Kershaw, Kluber, D.J. LeMahieu, J.A. Happ, Khris Davis, Nelson Cruz, Rick Porcello, Robbie Ray – have base cards which aren’t short prints.

It’s almost as if Topps is saying “What are you complaining about?  There are Miguel Cabrera cards which aren’t short printed…”

But rather than focus on all the superstars who are short-printed, I decided it might be fun to focus who isn’t short-printed and make an all-star team out of the first 400 cards in the set.  This is completely objective and, for two positions, I couldn’t decide so I listed both.  One of these positions features a guy I happen to have a card of, and since this latter part of the post is a bit text-heavy, I’ll include it here.

OK, so here we go, the non-short-printed All-Heritage team:

Starting Pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Marcus Stroman, Sonny Gray, Rick Porcello
Closer: Andrew Miller
Catcher: Yadier Molina
First Base: Carlos Santana / Chris Davis
Second Base: Jonathan Schoop
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus / Brandon Crawford
Third Base: Evan Longoria
Outfield: Adam Jones, Adam Eaton, Carlos Gomez
Designated Hitter: Kendrys Morales
Utility: Ben Zobrist, Ichiro

This post ran through a bunch of different iterations before it ended up the way it ended up, and I had one uploaded scan left over, so I’m going to pull a Jimmy Kimmel…

My apologies to Lonnie Chisenhall, we ran out of time.

Mickey Mantle Says “Have A Nice Day!”

…And I did have a nice day on Saturday, because I finished a vintage oddball insert set I’ve been casually chasing for about two years.

This past Saturday I was at a card show with several goals in mind, one of which was to finish off the 1968 Topps “Game” insert set. I was at the table of one of my favorite dealers, going through his bargain bin, when I ran across this Mickey Mantle for $2.
And obviously, it’s $2 because someone ink-stamped a “Have A Nice Day” smiley face on the front. I’m guessing somebody used a stamp to “brand” his cards, rather than writing their name on the front.  It’s OK, kid, I forgive you. The stamp doesn’t really overlap with his face, and the card’s in pretty decent shape otherwise, so there’s no way I would’ve gotten it for $2 without the stamp. It’s not like condition is a primary criteria for me, especially with this set which is strictly a “fun” goal.

With Mantle checked off the list and only partway through the bargain bin, I continued in search of the other two cards I needed. For some reason I had it in my mind that I needed Willie Mays. I went through the bin with no success, and then figured I’d at least cross Mantle off my paper checklist… which is when I saw that I didn’t need The Say Hey Kid, I needed Hammerin’ Hank.  I’d forgotten that I got the Mays in a COMC shipment earlier this year.

Getting back to the bin, I said “Aaron? I saw an Aaron in there!”

After some semi-frantic re-shuffling through the cards, there was my second need, also $2.
Much nicer condition than the Mantle for the same price, but you know… It’s merely a card of the guy who hit 755 home runs, it’s not MICKEY MANTLE (cue the scene from Blazing Saddles where everybody takes off their hat and a choir sings at the mention of Randolph Scott).

So after going through the bargain bin and finding Mantle and Aaron, I was left with one card standing between me and a complete set… and just by dumb luck it wasn’t a Hall-Of-Famer I needed, but a guy I knew just a little about (other than I needed his card).

It was at this point that the dealer astutely mentioned that he had more 1968 Game cards in his showcase, and I said “Well, I do need the Gary Peters card to complete my set…”

The next thing I know, I’m being handed this card…
So I overpaid slightly by buying this for a buck, and as it turns out, this Gary Peters card, with no yellowing, creases, stains or other marks, is in the nicest condition of any 1968 Game card I own.

Quick aside regarding Gary Peters (who I really only knew from the 1964 Topps “Giant” set)… He was a pitcher who had a few cups of coffee from 1959 to 1962, but in his first full season of 1963 he lead the league with a 2.33 ERA, won 19 games and was the A.L. Rookie of the Year.  In 1964 he was an All-Star and won 20 games, in 1966 he lead the league with a 1.98 ERA, and in 1967 he was an all-star for the second time.  He also was a good hitter who had at least one homer each season from 1963 to 1971.  On 5/26/1968, he batted sixth in the first game of a doubleheader against the Yankees… his batting sixth may have been influenced by a grand slam he hit earlier in the month in – you guessed it – the first game of a doubleheader against the Yankees.

Getting back to the newly-completed set…

I have to say, what started off as a series of “What the heck” purchases turned into a really fun vintage set to chase and complete. I didn’t keep track of my spending on this, but based off these three cards and my COMC purchase history, I’m guessing I spent about $30 to complete the set.  Again, my set is not one that anyone would send off to be graded, but it was most definitely a fun set to chase after.

Unexpected 1968’s, Part Three

So here we are with the third an final chapter of “1968 Topps cards I got recently without realizing just how many I had acquired until the dust had settled”.

Bud Harrelson… Another step towards a Mets team set I’ll likely never achieve because of the Nolan Ryan rookie (and I’m cool with that).
1968 Topps Bud Harrelson
In 1968, Bud was coming off of his first full year in the majors, and he was the starting shortstop for the Mets.

Don Buford is capless and in pinstripes because he came to the Orioles in the same trade that sent Luis Aparicio to the White Sox
1968 Topps Don Buford
I almost hadn’t noticed the “2B – 3B” designation on this card.  Buford played the outfield for most of his time with the O’s, and even though I have at least one card featuring Buford with the Chisox, I didn’t realize he was an infielder.  According to baseball-reference.com, he was an outfielder with the University of Southern California, was converted to the infield by the White Sox and converted back by the Orioles.

Dean Chance was an All-Star in 1967… with the Twins.  I didn’t realize he’d played for the Twins.  I knew he started with the Angels and won a Cy Young in 1964, I knew he pitched for the Indians and Mets towards the end of his career, but I missed the Twins in the middle.
1968 Topps Game Dean Chance
Even though he appears with the Mets on his 1971 card, he only pitched 3 games for them in 1970.  Guess I should have had him on my “Short-term Mets” team.

Dick/Rich/Richie Allen was the NL Rookie of the Year, he was the AL MVP, he was a 7-time All-Star, and none of these things happened in 1968.
1968 Topps Game Dick Allen

Rod Carew is a ground out?  How can you have a guy with a .328 career BA be represented by a ground out?
1968 Topps game Rod Carew
When this card came out, Carew was 22-years-old, the reigning AL ROY and just starting a 19-year career where the only season he didn’t make the All-Star team was his last season in 1985.

Like his Orioles teammate Don Buford, Pete Richert is also capless and in pinstripes… Unlike Buford, they’re Senators pinstripes, not White Sox pinstripes.
1968 Topps Pete Richert

This last card is a Bob Tolan card I bought solely because I liked the photo.
1968 Topps Bob Tolan

An Unexpected Number Of 1968’s, Part Two

Here are some more of the 1968 cards I got recently without meaning to buy as many as I ended up buying (but it’s all good)…

Dave Leonhard played 6 years for the Orioles, first as a starter, then as a reliever. He’s the last Major Leaguer to come out of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
1968 Topps Orioles Rookies Leonhard May
Dave May played for the Orioles, Brewers and Rangers, and is famous for being the guy traded to the Braves for Hank Aaron in 1974.

A 1968 Game insert featuring Matty Alou wearing one of those weird Pirates hats with the logo apparently on a patch instead of being embroidered directly into the hat.
1968 Topps Game Matty Alou
Matty Alou lead the NL in batting in 1966, and was in the top 4 in batting from 1967 to 1969.

Tommie Agee is capless because he had been acquired from the White Sox in December, 1967.
1968 Topps Tommie Agee
Agee won a Gold Glove and Rookie Of The Year during his first full season, but he disappointed in his second season, so the White Sox shipped him off to the lowly Mets.

In 1967 with the Astros, Mike Cuellar was an All-Star and a 16-game winner.  In 1969 with the Orioles, Cuellar won the Cy Young award.  In 1968…. well……………….. not so much.
1968 Topps Mike Cuellar
I’m guessing that Cuellar’s airbrushed hat means that it’s really a Colt .45 hat.  The team was the Colts from 1962 to 1964.  That’s the Shea Stadium scoreboard in the background, and Shea opened in 1964.  I’ll let you do the logic to determine what year this photo must be from.

Update:  I’d assumed that the airbrushed cap on Mike Cuellar meant that it wasn’t an Astros logo, but in the comments for this post Tony L. pointed out that *every* Astro in 1968 Topps has the cap airbrushed (or no cap at all), most likely due to the same legal dispute between the Astros and Topps that resulted in the cards saying “HOUSTON” rather than “ASTROS”.  Thanks, Tony!

Manny Mota, on a card I just liked.
1968 Topps Manny Mota
I so thoroughly associate Manny Mota with the Dodgers that it’s strange to see him in a Pirates uniform, even though he played six years in Pittsburgh.  I won’t get into his short stints with the Expos and Giants.

Another Game insert, this one of Tommy Davis, who I believe is in a Dodger’s uniform even though he played for the Mets in 1967 and the White Sox in 1968, because he’d been traded by the Mets in the Agee deal.
1968 Topps Game Tommy Davis
I didn’t intentionally include both in the same post, but it worked out quite nicely.

Al Ferrara played piano at Carnegie Hall as a child, and guest starred on Gilligan’s Island and Batman (as I’ve mentioned a couple of times before… Sue me, I think it’s cool).
1968 Topps Al Ferrara
I found this clip of one of the episodes of Batman he was in, I believe he’s the taller of the two henchmen carrying the boxes containing giant spiders (It’s 1960’s Batman, just go with it).

“Black Widow” was played by Tallulah Bankhead, in what was her final role.

An Unexpected Number Of 1968’s, Part One

I’ve noticed a particular phenomenon when I go shopping on COMC, especially during a free-shipping promotion.  I’ll do some shopping, do some other things, do more shopping, do more things, and so on during the weekend… and it won’t be until I get the box from COMC that I get a handle on exactly what I bought.

One thing I realized about my last two shopping sprees was that ended up getting a lot more 1968 baseball cards than I’d intended or even realized. Some of them came off of wantlists but a bunch of them were impulse buys which just sneaked up on me.

Dick Selma puts me one step closer to the Mets team set… a goal I won’t likely reach unless I miraculously find a Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman rookie that falls in my budget (HAH!)
1968 Topps Dick Selma

An Orioles team set is somewhat more realistic, but I didn’t grow up an Orioles fan so I don’t have any huge attachment to the O’s before when I started following them in the mid-1990’s.
1968 Topps Sam Bowens
I knew very little about Sam Bowens before buying this card. Now I know he had a good rookie season that he never quite recaptured, but stuck around because of his defensive capabilities.

I don’t remember why I bought this… probably because it was unusually cheap, and old enough that “unusually cheap” is sufficient cause for me to buy it.
1968 Topps Woody Fryman

I do remember buying this card… I bought it because I liked it. Not the greatest card out of 1968, but it has it’s appeal.
1968 Topps Chico Ruiz
Chico Ruiz was one of the last Cubans to leave before the border was shut down, played every position but pitcher and center field, and was still an active player when he was killed in a car crash in early 1972.

As  you can see, Dick Dietz was a Topps All-Star Rookie, and was later an actual All-Star.
1968 Topps Dick Dietz
Dick Dietz seemed to have had a career and then he didn’t.  I’ve seen a couple of references to him having been blackballed because he was a player representative during the 1972 baseball strike.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it would not surprise me in the least.

For some reason, I’ve been picking up late 1960’s and early 1970’s Yankees.  Yes, I am a Mets fan.  No, I can’t explain it.
1968 Topps Bill Monbouquette
Bill Monbouquette was a 20-game winner with the Red Sox, and was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. 1968 was his last year as an active pitcher, but he would go on to server as a pitching coach for a number of years, including two years as the Mets pitching coach. I should’ve just said that up front instead of admitting that I buy Yankee cards on purpose.

And, of course, what are 1968 Topps cards without the Game inserts? I’m sure you don’t need any introduction to Brooks Robinson…
1968 Topps Game Brooks Robinson

…Or Ron Santo.
1968 Topps Game Ron Santo

As you can guess from the heading, this is just the first batch of 68’s… I didn’t want to dump them all on you at once (and I wanted the opportunity to have some relatively easy posts in the near future).  Stay tuned!

Coming Back On Stage To Play “Freebird”

Since I came back from “vacation” I’ve featured 2015 Bowman, non-sport cards, oversized oddballs and customs. I kinda feel like some of you might look at this like one would regard a concert by a famous rock musician who insists on playing all the stuff from his new album instead of the stuff that everybody really came to hear.

With that in mind, here’s a post featuring nothing but vintage cards which fit in a 9-pocket sheet… Well, except for one card which goes in an 8-pocket sheet.

I’m slowly working towards the 1968 Topps “Game” insert set, and here’s a card I just got featuring MLB’s PeteRose-a non grata…
1968 Topps Game Pete Rose
I’m not particularly a fan of Mr. Rose, but I like this card…  Not even sure why.  It’s kind of funny that the all-time hits king should have a “ground out” on his game card, but I guess somebody had to.  My own thoughts are that Pete Rose will eventually get in the HOF, but not until after he’s shuffled off this mortal coil.

In order to keep my efforts from getting too scattershot – yeah, right – I’m trying to focus my Kellogg’s acquisitions on Mets and the 1976  set… But that doesn’t mean I won’t pick up a cheap 1972 Kelogg’s when I see one…
1972 Kelloggs Dick Drago
Dick Drago was never a star player, but he was one of the better players in early Royals history.  In 1971 he was the Royals’ Pitcher Of The Year, going 17-11 with a 2.98 ERA, 15 complete games and 4 shutouts.

This 1972 Richie Scheinblum has a classically bad airbrush job. I think everybody should take a moment to appreciate the poorly-placed logo on the airbrushed cap.
1972 Topps Richie Scheinblum
1972 was Scheinblum’s only season as a regular, and he batted an even .300 while making the All-Star team.

I’ve been making something of an effort to get a better representation of the 1950’s in my collection.  Being a Mets fan from a young age, it’s not surprising that I have relatively few cards from before the Mets’ first season in 1962.  I’m also an Orioles fan, but I became one much later in life, so I don’t quite have the emotional attachment to vintage Orioles.  As a result, I’m often left with few budget-friendly cards to go after from the 1950’s.  Instead, I often go after guys who would later be Mets coaches from when I was a kid in the 1970’s.
1954 Bowman Eddie Yost
Eddie Yost was a Mets coach from 1968 to 1976.  Known as “The Walking Man” for his ability to draw a base on balls, he has a higher career on-base percentage than HOFers like Rod Carew, Joe Morgan, Honus Wagner, Tony Gwynn and Willie Mays (as well as Derek Jeter and Pete Rose).

I’ve been thinking of shopping for 1950’s cards using my 1956 modus operandi – go for the beautiful commons, regardless of who’s featured on them…  Cards like this:
1956 Topps Roy Sievers

If anyone’s got suggestions on any Bowman or pre-1956 Topps that fit this category, please leave me a comment (and if it’s a card you’ve featured in your blog, a link would be greatly appreciated). Thank you in advance!

Stuff That Made Me Think Of Cards

Not that it takes much to get me to think of cards…

The other day I saw something about Dirk Nowitzki retiring, and that made me think of this card I got and have been meaning to post:
2007-08 Topps Basketball 50th Variation Dirk Nowitzki
As it turns out, the “news” about Nowitzki retiring was an April Fool’s joke, which is just as well. Nowitzki is one of the relatively few NBA players I know something about beyond his name (i.e. he’s German), so it just wouldn’t do if he were to retire.

At any rate, I didn’t buy this card because of Nowitzki… well, not entirely. I bought it because I recently became enamored with the simple yet appealing design of the 1957-58 Topps Basketball set, and I proclaimed “I’m going to get me one of them there cards!”

Shortly thereafter, I found out just how expensive them there cards can be, so for the time being I decided to go with a 50th anniversary variation set from 8 years ago. Here’s the back of the card:
2007-08 Topps Basketball 50th Variation Dirk Nowitzki back
It’s not bad, but ultimately unsatisfying. I’ve also been thinking of starting a type collection of vintage Topps basketball , so maybe I’ll start keeping an eye out for relatively cheap commons from the original set.

Regular readers may remember that back in November I made a custom 1957-58 card of Stanford Senior Amber Orrange.
1957 topps basketball Amber Orrange
Aside from the fact that I like her name, I also like any basketball player that’s my height. Amber’s Stanford team made it to the Sweet 16 this year, and she should be taken pretty high up in the upcoming WNBA draft.

Another thing that made me think of a card I’ve been meaning to post was seeing Al Leiter on Rachael Ray’s show.
1992 O-Pee-Chee Al Leiter
Al and Willie Randolph had an Opening Day cook-off, which Al won on the fifth tiebreaker (or something like that). I frankly don’t get the appeal of cooking shows… You can’t smell it, you can’t eat it, you can only see it. I guess maybe it’s like watching golf… You appreciate it more if you do the same activity yourself (and by that I mean cooking, not eating).

By the way, you might be saying to yourself “I know the 1992 Topps set backwards and forwards, and I don’t remember that card of Al Leiter”. That’s because the above card is one of a handful of 1992 OPC’s which don’t have a Topps counterpart.

A third thing that made me think of cards came during an Orioles Spring Training game when they were talking about Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike, who is a minor leaguer in the O’s farm system. I don’t have a card of Mike yet, but I’ve got plenty of cards of Carl.
1968 Topps Game Carl Yastrzemski
…And thanks to The Walking Dead, every time I run across someone named Carl, in my head I’m thinking “Get in the house, Carl!”

The fourth thing that made me think of cards was having a bowl of Kellogg’s Product 19 cereal. Eating Kellogg’s always makes me think of collecting Kellogg’s.
1978 Kelloggs Dave Winfield
Like I said, it doesn’t take much to get me to think of cards.  I keep going back and forth on my Kellogg’s strategy. Buy up any cheap cards I find? Focus on a particular set? Both? So many decisions to make, so many decisions…

Line Out – Runners Do Not Advance

My last few weeks have felt like the George Scott card from the 1968 Topps game insert:  Line out – Runners do not advance.
1968 Topps Game George Scott
No, no, that’s not quite right… George looks too happy about things.

Do we have another bad result from the game where the player looks a bit more…

…I dunno…

…Worn out?
1968 Topps Game Jim Wynn

Yeah… That’s better.  Thank you, Jim Wynn.

My posts have been sporadic lately partly because I haven’t had a whole lot of free time, and partly because my top blogging priority is a long-term project that hasn’t yet resulted in any posts… Our crack team of custom card designers and manufacturers have been spending every available moment trying to get the 2015 TSR custom set ready and out into the virtual stores by Opening Day.

As a result, whenever I try to finish and publish one of the many drafts I have, I just…
1968 Topps Game Mike McCormick
…Strike out.

And all that is on top of other tasks that eat into my hobby time, like organizing and removing the unholy mess of cards that have taken over the dining room table. Mrs. Shlabotnik has been patient thus far, but it’s best not to push those limits.

So… Apologies for my general absence from the Blogosphere of late. After the new set goes live, I hope that will change for the better.
1968 Topps Game Claude Osteen
Sorry, I can’t think of any way to work a double play into this post.

I’m Tired Of Looking For Topps… How About A Pack Of NOT-2015 Topps?

All week I’ve been in and out of Target and Wal-Mart stores, at least one each day, trying to find packs of 2015 Topps. I feel like the employees are saying “Here comes another one of those guys who walks in, looks at the card aisle, and walks out”.

I think I’ve had enough for now… Instead of busting a pack of new cards, how about we bust an 8-card pack of Not 2015! Not Topps!
Not 2015 Not Topps pack

First card is a 1979 Topps Gaylord Perry… Not a bad kickoff, although I guess that the “Not Topps” thing on the wrapper turned out to be false advertising. You think I fully think these posts through before I write them? Pfft.
1979 Topps Gaylord Perry
I unfortunately missed Gaylord Perry’s halftime show at the Super Bowl, although I can’t imagine what he would’ve–

What’s that?

Katy Perry did the halftime show?


I would rather have seen Gaylord Perry.

Even though this pack we’re opening is standard size, you come to the next card and are blinded by a flash of light, then find that the next card is a 5″ x 7″ 1980 Topps Super of Dave Parker.
1980 Topps 5x7 Dave parker
I don’t know why, but the whole “card is bigger than the pack it came in” made me think of the old text-based computer games that were popular among us computer nerds around 1980.

You find yourself in a small room. There is nothing here but a pack of baseball cards.
> open pack
You can’t open something you don’t have.
> take pack

…and at this point anybody below the age of 45 has already closed the browser tab and is off to check out Night Owl’s latest post.

Wait! Wait! Don’t go! Look, I’ve got Tom Seaver from the 1985 Fleer set!  He’s a Hall-Of-Famer!  He’s smiling!  Look how happy he is to be here!
1985 Fleer Tom Seaver
See, there are cards in this pack that aren’t Topps.

Rick Cerone signs a baseball for fans of — QUICK! What team is he with on this card?
1992 Stadium Club Rick Cerone
The answer is at the bottom of this post.  O!  The suspense!

One of the insert sets in last year’s Heritage was a “First Draft” set that featured a handful of players, and they all looked like nice cards, but as a Mets fan the one I really wanted was Nolan Ryan. I bought a wax box of Heritage. I bought a couple of blasters of Heritage. I bought loose packs of Heritage. Every “First Draft” card I got was Johnny Freakin’ Bench. I ended up using a small amount of my COMC credit to finally get this one.
2014 Topps Heritage First Draft Nolan Ryan
“295th Overall”, in very small type.  That’s my favorite part of the card.

Speaking of Heritage, this card should perhaps whet your appetite for the 2015 set.
1966 Topps Luis Aparicio
I know, I know, the 1966 design doesn’t hold a candle to 1965. I still like the set in a minimalist sort of way, and I’ll be buying another wax box or two.

In the early 1960’s, Danny Kaye recorded “The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song” where he half-sings the play-by-play of a fictional game between the Dodgers and Giants.  While the song is amusing, I’ve always enjoyed the way he relishes singing “Orlando Cepeda”.
1968 Topps Game Orlando Cepeda
“Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrlando Cepeda is at bat with the bases jammed…”  Unlike this 1968 Topps insert card, the result was a little better than “Ground out, runners advance one base”.

Wrapping things up with a 1970 Dick Drago. Why Drago? Why not.
1970 Topps Dick Drago
Here’s a fun Dick Drago fact… On July 30th, 1971, Drago faced 13 batters while pitching a complete game.  “Huh?” you say.  Well, it was a rain-shortened 4.5 inning game, the Royals were in Baltimore and lost 1-0 on a Frank Robinson homer.  Jim Palmer pitched a 5-inning complete game because he had to pitch the top of the 5th to make things official.  My favorite part of the game’s Baseball-Reference page:  “Time Of Game:  0:48”.

Answer to the Rick Cerone quiz: That 1992 Stadium Club card shows Rick Cerone during his half-season with the Montreal Expos. Ten points to everyone who got that right.

Ya Get Whatcha Get: 3 Vintage, 1 Faux Vintage, 1 Blogger Playing For Time

I’ll admit it;  I’ve got so many irons in the fire right now that I haven’t the time to write a cohesive post….  That’s why ya get whatcha get.

I suppose I may as well admit that I’m trying to collect the 1968 Topps Game Insert set, although it’s more of a casual pursuit than an active one.  I enjoy this oddball insert because it’s fun, small (33 cards) and affordable.  This Frank Howard card is one of my Black Friday additions.
1968 Topps Game Frank Howard
2015 Topps Archives will have an insert set that pays homage to this oddball… I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, Archives has a way of building my hopes and then dashing them on the rocks.  As it is, they’ve already pissed me off with the preview images that feature the 1976 design… They use the city & team name (“COLORADO ROCKIES”) when it should be just the team name, and they used the wrong colors for the Red Sox.  I suppose it wouldn’t be Archives if it didn’t piss off the people who love the originals.

During the end of 2014 I waxed poetic about 1970 Topps Super Football and Baseball.  Here’s another 1970 Super I got from COMC… this one features phenom-of-the-day Andy Messersmith.  I don’t know that you can see it in my scan, but in the original oversized card you can see the weave in Andy’s flannel jersey.  Most excellent!
1970 Topps Super Andy Messersmith
In 1969, the year before this card was issued, Messersmith was a 23-year-old who went 16-11 for a team that lost 91 games.  All too often people mention his role in establishing free agency or the time that Ted Turner tried to advertise his TV station by putting CHANNEL on Messersmith’s back so that it read “CHANNEL 17″… But Andy Messersmith was a fine ballplayer.  Four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove, lead the NL with 20 wins in 1974, lead in shotouts in 1975.  There was a reason the Braves signed him to a $1M contract.

I started buying Cal Ripken cards as a way to help my wife understand my hobby – she’s a huge fan of Cal’s.  Although she doesn’t enjoy baseball cards the way I do, she likes to look at cards of her favorite players, and she does appreciate what makes one card nicer than another.
2013 Topps Archives Cal Ripken
Even though there’s really no hope of converting her any further, I still buy Ripkens.  Force of habit, I guess.  This card is from the 2013 Archives set  (and nit-pick, nit-pick, nit-pick, the action shot shows a completely different Orioles uniform than is in the portrait)

One made-up subset of 1969 Topps that I’m collecting is high-#ed cards of guys in the brand-spanking-new uniforms of that year’s expansion teams.  Here Moe Drabowsky shows off his new KC Royals uni – which is pretty much like the Royals uni from any point in the last 40+ years, but still…
1969 Topps Moe Drabowsky
Moe was the answer to a number of trivia questions… Who gave up Stan Musial’s 3,000th hit? Who was the losing pitcher for Early Wynn’s 300th victory? Who was the first pitcher to get a win for the Royals? Moe, Moe, Moe. He also was born in Poland and played for both the K.C. Athletics and the K.C. Royals.